Sometimes the rumor mill is full of crap, other times it’s full of facts. This time, it’s the latter.
On Thursday, the UFC announced the highly anticipated lightweight scrap between interim champ Tony Ferguson (pictured) and Khabib Nurmagomedov will headline UFC 223.
Brooklyn’s Barclays Center hosts the April 7 event.
As you may recall, the 155-pounders were initially slated to collide for the vacant interim title at UFC 209. However, Nurmagomedov had “weight management medical issues” and was pulled from the March scrap at the 11th hour.
Nurmagomedov had missed weight one other time in eight UFC outings. Five fights ago, “The Eagle” soared onto the scale at 158.5 pounds in his unanimous decision win over Abel Trujillo at UFC 160.
Of course, the giant elephant in the room is the fate of UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. There are rumbling that UFC is considering stripping McGregor of his belt because he hasn’t defended it since beating Eddie Alvarez to capture the crown in November 2016.
The UFC made no mention of that and listed Ferguson as the interim champ in the press release.
Regardless, if McGregor intends on resuming his mixed martial arts career, the victor of this bout will most likely lock in their shot at the UFC’s golden boy.
Today’s announcement is unfortunate news for Ferguson, who was hoping his 10-fight win streak was good enough to secure a money fight against McGregor. “El Cucuy” even suggested he’d sit out and wait for McGregor to return to ensure the biggest payday of his career, but there was no way the UFC would allow that given McGregor’s cloudy timeline for a return.
Nurmagomedov owns the most vicious ground-and-pound in the game, which does not bode well for Ferguson or McGregor’s standup styles. He’s parlayed his violent attack into a perfect 25-0 professional record.
Nurmagomedov’s biggest issues have been injuries and weight. If he can get those under control, then perhaps the man most believe to be the world’s top lightweight will don the gold before year’s end.
No other bouts have been announced for the lineup.